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Woodbury sends 3 wrestlers to state

Ben Donnelly wrestles Saturday at sections.1 / 3
Justin Harold-Plakut is recognized for his first-place finish at sections.2 / 3
Woodbury's Ty Johnson wrestles in Saturday's section championship match.3 / 3

Woodbury sophomore Justin Harold-Plakut led a charge of three Royals headed to state after Saturday's Section 4AAA individual wrestling meet.

Harold-Plakut, Ty Johnson and Ben Donnelly all qualified for the state meet. Harold-Plakut took first in his weight class, while Johnson and Donnelly both punched their cards to state with second-place finishes.

All 13 Woodbury wrestlers who competed at the event placed, which coach Justin Smith said was the team's goal heading into sections.

"That was really nice to see," he said.

Harold-Plakut, one of 13 Royals wrestlers to compete in the meet - held at Woodbury High School - defeated South St. Paul's Brandon Strong in the 132-pound class.

Johnson lost in the 106-pound class final to Stillwater's Christian Bahl, while Donnelly lost an overtime match in the 138-pound final to North St. Paul's Joe Raymond.

Up 1-0 against Raymond, Donnelly was poised for a first-place finish with just three seconds remaining on the clock. But just as time expired, judges determined that Donnelly lost control of his hold on Raymond.

That forced an overtime period where Donnelly gave up the lead. Smith said he was disappointed the match was decided by the referees.

"That's too bad for Ben," He said.

Both first- and second-place section finishers qualify for the state meet, which runs Thursday, March 1, through March 3 at the St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center.

Third-place finishers for Woodbury included Howard Jones in the 160-pound class. The sophomore finishes the season with a 34-8 record. Also grabbing a third-place finish was senior Connor Harreld. He wrestled to a 21-14 record on the year.

Both Jones and Herreld "had devastating losses in the semifinals that ended up sealing their fate," Smith said. "That was tough to take."

Fellow Woodbury senior Chandler Ignaszewski completed his 11-15 season with a third-place finish in the 182-point class.

The championship marks Harold-Plakut's third state berth, after first making state as an eighth grader. He heads into the tournament with a 31-8 record on the season.

Harold-Plakut squares off in first-round state action against Connor Scherping of Little Falls, who brings a 32-10 record.

Johnson (29-10) wrestles in the first round against Trevor Westerlund of Albert Lea Area, who carries a 34-3 record.

Donnelly (33-8) is also wrestling in his third state meet. He opens state action against Rochester Mayo's Jake Hanson (35-4).

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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